Fans were asked to vote for one of 48 hand-built custom bikes littered throughout the show. We spent a lot of time talking to the builders and you could really feel the passion that went into these incredible machines. The bikes varied from the insane to the subdued and with so many wildly different bikes to pick from, we couldn't choose a favorite, we'll leave that up to you.
Electric motorcycles grab plenty of headlines, but are they practical? Are they cool? Zero Motorcycles gave us the opportunity to try them first-hand and man, they are certainly different, but also a lot of fun. No you won't get attention from loud pipes, but oddly, a silent motorcycle gets noticed just the same. They were quick, agile and with no shifting, had practically no learning curve. Turn the switch on, twist the throttle and you're gone. The super light weight, lack of feedback and ramping acceleration did give it a slightly toyish feel, but was more than a match for midtown Manhattan. You're not going to set any distance records with approximately 100 miles per charge, but for a commuter or weekend warrior, they may just fit the bill.
Ducati had some beautiful offerings, but their new 1199 Panigale S took center stage. A fully race tuned version of their Panigale series, the S edition has 195 horses, 98 ft-lb of torque and weighs in at only 415 lbs. A staggering power to weight ratio. That power combined with modern touches like full LED headlights, an electronically controlled suspension and carbon fiber accents make the Ducati 1199 Panigale S a true superbike.
The Bonneville Performance Street Tracker stopped us dead in our tracks. This lightweight, street legal tracker is the pinnacle of cool. Weighing in at just 351 pounds with a 1200cc power plant, you can bet this thing hauls. Although it's based on the ever enduring Triumph Bonneville, this isn't something you're going to find at your local dealer. It's built by custom shop Bonneville Performance so get on the waiting list now.
The Norton Commando is an icon among British twins, known for its styling as well as its performance. Then Norton died off and the Commando became a thing of the past, but just last year, the Norton name was resurrected along with the Commando. We had the opportunity to see the 961 Cafe Racer that features a fuel injected, 961cc parallel twin and some truly gorgeous lines. It's hard to improve upon an icon, but in this case, Norton has succeeded. They are not cheap and not readily available, so don't expect to see many at bike night, but it's the one to dream about during these cold winter nights.
More From the 2012 NY International Motorcycle Show